Children as Religious Resources: The Role of Children in the Social Re-Formation of Class, Culture, and Religious Identity

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Abstract:

Based on observations and interviews in two churches representing two different strands of American Protestantism, I assess the ways in which children contribute to the social construction of class, culture, and religious identity for adults. Evidence comes from observing how congregations incorporate children into adult worship services and talk about them in texts and programs, and from the ways in which newer and long-term congregation members describe valuing and understanding children's ministries. These styles and their meanings reflect the history, heritage, and theological distinctives of these two strands of American Protestantism. Religion, I suggest, is not just good for children; children themselves are a religious resource whose presence in worship, service, and discourse helps to create and maintain a sense of identity, place, and meaning in the lives of worshipping adults.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00349.x

Affiliations: Correspondence should be addressed to Sally K. Gallagher, Department of Sociology, Fairbanks 307, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3703., Email: Sgallagher@Oregonstate.edu

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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